KUCHING: It is the hope of Sarawakians to be on equal standing with their Peninsular Malaysian counterparts in terms of economic development.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg brought up the aspiration of all Sarawakians in his speech during the Malaysia Day Celebration which was held in Sibu yesterday.
“Sarawakians also want to be on equal standing with their counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia in as far as economic development is concerned because that was the hope and aspiration of our founding leaders when they signed the Malaysia Agreement in 1963.
“It is also the hope of all Sarawakians yesterday, today and tomorrow,” said Abang Johari.
The fact that there are more than 1,000 dilapidated schools in Sarawak as well as the lack of good road connectivity must be addressed by the federal government to change the perception that Sarawak has been neglected.
“The state of our more than 1,000 dilapidated rural schools, be they primary or secondary schools, is a case in point that must be rectified as soon as possible to address the perception that Sarawak is not being given due attention by the federal government as education is under the purview of the federal government.
“We understand that the federal government may not have sufficient funds to repair or rebuild these poor rural schools which is estimated to cost about RM1 billion over and above the sum allocated in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan.
“We are willing to assist the federal government through our Development Bank (Development Bank of Sarawak). We appreciate that the Prime Minister has agreed to this arrangement.
“We believe that Malaysia can be a stronger nation if there is equal economic footing on both sides of the South China Sea. Discontent will only breed discord and disunity among Malaysians,” said Abang Johari.
The chief minister also pointed out Malaysia Day must be celebrated nationwide because it is a part of Malaysia’s history.
“Sarawakians and Sabahans feel that it is important to give due recognition to Sept 16 and not (let it) be forgotten as a part of history because Sarawak and Sabah was not annexed as a part of Malaysia.
“All the three territories — Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah — are parties to the formation of Malaysia,” he stressed.
He believed that respecting historical facts has a greater meaning and implication.
“I believe the bigger implication is that the people in both the eastern states of Malaysia do not want to be taken for granted, not only historically but also economically and politically.”